Liverpool are reportedly in the market for a new midfielder this summer, but every target has been billed as Steven Gerrard's replacement after the captain and legend announced that he would be moving on this summer on the expiration of his contract. Such thinking is irksome and neglects his current status as a squad player. There is an opportunity, however, to re-allocate Gerrard's wages to a midfielder of some talent who can improve the team as well as his own productivity in the coming years. There's also the question as to whether a defensive midfielder can be a replacement for Steven Gerrard, but the narrative must go on!
There is an interesting argument for Liverpool to add a midfield playmaker who can dictate tempo and run games for a side that has struggled to control games or find ideas against sides set up in extremely low defensive blocks. However, Philippe Coutinho shouldn't veer from a central position too much as he's simply magical. If Liverpool were to play a midfield three, Coutinho would theoretically combine well with Jordan Henderson or Joe Allen and a defensive midfielder. There may not be many creative players quite like Coutinho in Brendan Rodgers' squad, but there are attacking midfielders with quality such as Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling, Lazar Marković, and Jordon Ibe. João Teixeira could be another option Rodgers can call upon next season with his passing, dribbling, and willingness to prove his worth to the club.
Unfortunately, there is not a single player who operates in the mould of a defensive midfielder outside of the capable and defensively reliable Lucas Leiva. Joe Allen has done a fine job partnering Jordan Henderson recently but doesn't offer the same screening qualities as the Brazilian. The ideal scenario would be for Lucas to stay and another defensive midfielder to join a young group of players. Enter Sporting's William Carvalho, a player who has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs. The Angolan-born Portuguese international was linked with Liverpool in November along with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, and Arsenal. Nemanja Matić would make regular starts a daunting prospect even for a talent such as Carvalho, but there is space in the engine rooms of every club fighting for a place in the top four.
Portuguese daily A Bola recently confirmed that FC Porto star Danilo is moving to Real Madrid in the summer and shared news from the Daily Mail* that Brendan Rodgers has personally informed his club that William Carvalho's signature is a priority. Liverpool would need to spend a lot of money to secure the services of a player who has received a lot of attention from some of Europe's biggest clubs with a reputation as one of the most talented young players around in his position. Emre Can and Lucas Leiva are on Liverpool's books, but Can's future may lie in defence for another season or two. Lucas may not be around for the next campaign, and even if he were to remain on Merseyside, his durability is questionable.
It's a bit of a surprise that he hasn't yet moved to the Premier League, but this summer is set to be a conclusive one for the immediate future of the coveted defensive midfielder.
*H/T to Quicksloth